Taking on a puppy is a fur-ever commitment I wasn't ready for.
I thought my days of cleaning up poo and wee were done as my two children moved out of nappies and into knickers, but I was wrong. We recently welcomed Sophie, an English Staffordshire Terrier cross, to our family.
When my sister told me her dog was pregnant and that I would be getting a puppy, I felt this wasn't the right time. We already have a Maltese Shih Tzu who is almost 10 years old and likes nothing more than lazing around these days, and is very low maintenance. Although my husband and I had talked about getting another dog in the future, our children are only 3 and 5 and taking care of them while working and running the household is enough.
I wanted to say I was too busy for a puppy, and that I finally had a sense of work-life balance. I was finally getting organised in life. But I didn’t say any of that. I said yes. Because my sister thought she was being generous, the kids were excited and I don't know how to say no.
Before we took her home, I wrestled with the decision. I already wish there were more hours in the day, and having a puppy was going to test my patience and stretch my time to the limit.
The first 5 days were hell! As I’d expected, I was left to do the bulk of the work. The kids weren’t interested in helping me clean up after Sophie and neither was my husband. Just like my sister, they know I have an inability to ask for help or delegate tasks.
I have done this all my life. I say yes to things, even if it means agreeing to something I don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable with, to make other people happy, then deal with the consequences later, or simply put up with something I am not happy with myself.
Why? Because I’m the ultimate ‘people pleaser’. It feels ‘safe’ to say yes, especially when saying no means potential conflict. I jokingly call myself a door mat, but deep down I know it’s true. I’ve often been taken advantage of because people know I can’t say no.
Is it a lack of self esteem? The overarching need to gain approval from others, just to feel a sense of self-worth? Or in the case of getting a puppy, just a need to be the "fun mum"?
Whatever the reason, by the sixth day, I couldn't take it anymore. I called my sister and told her to take the puppy back and sell her to a family who had time and energy to give to her. I'd picked up 7 poops and mopped up pee in the kids’ playroom. I'd tackled Sophie away from nipping my children’s feet for the 813th time, all while trying to get them ready for school and day care and bundle them out of the door.
I was broken by this little tan bundle of fur. All because I can’t say no.
Then my husband called when I was driving home from the school run. He said we should keep the puppy, that he didn’t want to give her up and that he would help more. That she wouldn’t be so little for much longer and it won’t be this hard forever.
I instantly softened. Just like the kids, I know Sophie won’t always be so little, or nippy, overly playful, or poopy. When I got home and saw her little face and how excited she was to see me, I scooped her up. She has a lot of love to give us, as we have to give her.
There are so many great things about Sophie. She is beautiful, sweet, loving and I know she will be fiercely loyal to our family and the girls as they grow up together. My husband is helping out more with caring for her and helping to house train her. She and our other dog are learning to live together.
Yes, I’m hopeless at saying no, and that's something I need to work on. But I said yes to Sophie, so I need to accept my decision, move forward and give Sophie the best family life possible.